10 December 2008

When I left my one and only knitting class ten months ago, I felt strangely energized. In my hands, I held my Brittany needles, size eight, and a small square of gray scarf in garter stitch. The stitches were uneven, stitches had been picked up giving it an odd trapezoid shape, but it was, in all of its ugly beauty, mine.

The creation of something solid was refreshing. Entering my second semester of doctoral study, I had almost forgotten what it meant to create something physical. My creative energies were spent writing, making sense of ideas and fleshing out those of my own. Writing is as important as breathing but I missed creating things corporeal. I resolved, as I walked back to my car that February morning, to knit something for everyone on my holiday list. This resolution, with the holidays a not-so-distant memory, made sense in February. With Christmas currently right around the corner, it no longer seems like such a brilliant idea.

In the course of ten months, I've knit scarves, pairs of mittens, hats, and a single sock that has yet to have a mate. These gifts, soon to be sent out to loved friends and family, were spread out on my living room floor earlier this evening to be sorted into piles. These would go with me to Michigan. These would stay in Indiana. This would need to be mailed. These belonged in Wisconsin. These garments were a physical cartography of my knitting education: the scarf I first learned how to stripe, the mittens I first figured out color work, the very first hat I knit in the round. Each project has taught me something new about the craft, which makes total sense in light of my friendships.

Each friend has taught me something about how to be a good person in the world. It is only fitting that I give them a garment (albeit a small garment) that has taught me about moving string and needles to create something resembling beautiful. I have always struggled with the holiday season; it seems to have become simply a marketing machine with people trampling other people in Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving and exchanging gifts with close to no thought put into them. Knitting has reinforced my holiday spirit. When my friends and family open their presents, I hope they know how much I thought of them as I selected yarns, manipulated my needles, and wrapped their garment ever-so-carefully in brightly colored papers.

I will not be knitting for everyone on my list next year, though. After ten months of insane knitting, it will be nice to relax a bit. Perhaps I'll even cast on a square for a Lizard Ridge.

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